When Prison Education Programs are Cut, We All Lose
By Janice Chamberlin )
I teach literacy and GED classes to 50 male, adult inmates each day. In 2010, Indiana literacy, GED, and Vocational prison educators were told our services were no longer needed. We became victims of the economy and the current trend of “restructuring,” better known as privatization. I’m obviously not pleased, but “it is what it is.” The new company eventually hired half of us back; we were asked to teach ten more students each day, work five more hours a week, all for the bargain price of fifty percent of our prior pay. And we’re told to be grateful for a job in this economy!
In 2011, it was announced that funds for inmate college courses will be discontinued as of May, 2011. There are rumors that some of the universities will attempt to assist those inmates who were very close to completion of their respective degrees. If that occurs, it will be done on the universities’ dime. Otherwise, the State said it intends to focus on offering job training skills. For over 25 years, the prison at which I teach in Indiana was the site of a Purdue University campus. Other prisons in the state were staffed by professors from Indiana State University and Vincennes University, among others. Prisoner-students earned one year certificates, Associates’ and Bachelor Degrees.